Global Product Stewardship
Countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and state governments in the U.S., are increasingly enacting "product stewardship" measures to regulate product design, ban or restrict the use of certain chemicals, expand environmental labeling and certification programs, and manage end-of-life consumer and commercial products. Even where such mandatory requirements have not been adopted, numerous pressures are prompting companies to re-examine how they can best manage health and environmental impacts across the life cycles of their products. Drawing on its in-depth expertise in all aspects of environmental law, its international experience and its association with a network of international environmental practitioners, and its relevant litigation and transactional experience, the Firm provides sophisticated advice and representation on domestic and international environmental issues affecting the design, marketing, use, and disposition of our clients' products.
Some product stewardship measures are triggered by mandatory legal requirements. In other cases, perceived business and environmental benefits, trade association requirements, supply chain demands, pressure from “corporate responsibility” or other interest groups, and the desire to minimize product liability, toxic tort, or environmental remediation exposure may encourage companies to take more aggressive roles in managing the impacts of their products. At the same time, however, companies doing business around the globe often face daunting legal and cultural challenges in developing consistent, cost-effective stewardship programs that enable them to retain the value and marketability of their products. In addition, some companies seeking to go “beyond compliance” with respect to their products have discovered unanticipated competitive or confidentiality costs or have also become targets for interest groups seeking still more aggressive measures. Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. has worked extensively on existing and proposed product stewardship measures under U.S. and international environmental accords and national laws, as well as voluntary industry initiatives and individual company programs. Virtually any aspect of the development, marketing, use, or end-of-life management of a product may, at some time, become the focus of a “product stewardship” initiative. Examples of the issues that Beveridge & Diamond has worked on include the following.
- Electronic Take-Back and Recycling. The Firm actively monitors and advises clients on electronic take-back and recycling measures worldwide. Our recent work includes detailed analyses of existing and proposed take-back measures in Europe, Asia and existing environmental measures in Latin America relevant to the development of global asset management and recycling strategies for a number of U.S. electronics manufacturers.
- Chemical Prohibitions/Bans. We routinely track and advise clients on national chemical and material use bans and restrictions. This work includes advising clients in the chemicals, pharmaceutical, and electronics industries on existing and proposed chemical bans and restrictions under regional or global environmental agreements such as the EU’s proposed “REACH” regulation, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and those targeting persistent organic pollutants (POPs). We also monitor, and represent our clients’ interests with respect to chemicals that have been targeted for testing or potential regulatory action such as high production volume chemical and PFOA compounds.
- Environmental Labeling and Certification. Our work on environmental labeling issues includes advice and representation with respect to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's guidelines on environmental marketing claims, EPA's Energy Star program, and a variety of international ecolabeling programs. We have helped clients evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and competitive implications of various product standard and certification programs intended to use market forces to encourage “environmentally preferable” products and have represented our clients’ interests with respect to such programs.
- Supply Chain Issues. We have assisted a number of clients in managing the increased requirements and information sharing up and down the supply chain that result from enhanced product stewardship requirements. For example, Beveridge & Diamond has drafted model contract language for its clients with respect to vendors’ legal and regulatory requirements and responsible handling of clients’ products and wastes. We have also advised clients on the nature and scope of product information that they share with their customers, including proposed responses to customers’ requests for various types of certifications regarding product composition or regulatory compliance.
- Packaging Design and Recycling. We routinely advise clients on regulatory developments affecting packaging design and recycling at the state, federal, and international level. For example, we prepared a comprehensive report recommending product design approaches that would minimize financial and environmental impacts associated with certain packaging and recycling requirements in Taiwan and several other Asian jurisdictions.
- Plastics Initiatives. We have prepared country surveys identifying and analyzing regulatory initiatives affecting the manufacture, use, and recycling of certain plastics in key markets for a major U.S. trade association. Reports included analyses of existing and proposed environmental measures and an assessment of government, non-governmental organization (NGO) policy concerns and priorities, as well as media reports.
- Extended Producer Responsibility. We have extensive experience with policy developments regarding producer responsibility issues. We represented the Shared Product Responsibility (SPR) Group (an industry coalition) in connection with both the OECD extended producer responsibility (EPR) project and EPA's development of a brochure on the extended product responsibility concept (a shared responsibility approach) advocated by EPA and the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD).
- Voluntary Industry Initiatives. We helped a major trade association prepare a voluntary industry policy for identifying and managing risks posed by certain persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances (PBTs) as part of the industry's overall response to increased efforts within the U.S. and at the international level to ban and restrict the use of certain commercial chemical products, by-products and pesticides.